Wednesday, December 12, 2012

North Korea Launches Rocket; Sends Satellite Into Orbit

Weapons of War

The North Korean regime went ahead with its announced rocket launch, says a report in the New York Times, defying the wishes of the international community. Choe Sang-Hun and David E. Sanger of the Times write:
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or Norad, said it had detected the launching and tracked the missile — a Galaxy-3 rocket, called the Unha-3 by the North — as its first stage appeared to fall into the Yellow Sea and the second stage into the Philippine Sea.
“Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit,” Norad said. “At no time was the missile or the resultant debris a threat to North America.”
But the timing of the launching appeared to take American officials by surprise. Just an hour or two before blastoff from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri on North Korea’s western coast, near China, American officials at a holiday reception at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Washington said they thought the North Koreans had run into technical problems that could take them weeks to resolve.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said the rocket succeeded in the ostensible goal of putting an earth-observation satellite named Kwangmyongsong-3, or Shining Star-3, into orbit, and celebrations by members of the North Korean media were reported.
Although the launching was driven in part by domestic considerations, analysts said it carried far-reaching foreign relations implications, coming as leaders in Washington and Beijing — as well as those soon to be chosen in Tokyo and Seoul — try to form a new way of coping with North Korea after two decades of largely fruitless attempts to end its nuclear and missile ambitions. 
The launch was an important test and victory of sorts for Kim Jong-un, North Korea's young leader, who has now achieved some credibility with his military and has also shown the international community that North Korea's plans to build an intercontinental ballistic missile are real. Then there's the symbolism; the successful launch came five days before the one-year anniversary of the death of Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il. Its significance cannot be denied.

But more important, the missile launch and advancing warfare technology will do little to feed the millions of North Koreans who are impoverished and starving.

You can read the rest of the article at [NYT]